Give Up the Ghost
GIVE UP THE GHOST by Matt Hilton
Before the accident I didn’t give much credibility to mediums or spiritualists or psychics. I thought it was all a load of rubbish to be honest. However, Christine was more of a believer than I and often said that if she were to die she’d come back and prove that there was indeed life after death. I had no argument for her there; I just didn’t believe that the ‘mystics’ were anything but a group of charlatans playing on the grief of the living to coin in a healthy buck. I didn’t say there was no afterlife, only that I doubted that anyone truly had the ability to communicate with those that had passed on.
Many evenings we’d spend in our darkened living room, watching Spook Chasers on TV and while Christine would yelp and hide behind a pillow I’d cringe at the lamentable goings on of the resident spiritualist medium, Del, while he went through another questionable ‘possession’. There were some things that kept me watching – Eve, the presenter, when she wasn’t screaming, was eye-candy so I didn’t complain. Not much.
Christine believed. She told me that she saw her mother after the old lady died. She apparently came to our bedroom and patted Chris on the foot when she was in bed. I told her that it was just wishful thinking, perhaps a waking dream or something. Or maybe just cramp.
‘So you don’t believe in ghosts?’ she asked.
‘I believe in ghosts, Chris, I just don’t believe in mediums.’
‘If I die before you,’ Christine said, ‘I’m going to go to wherever the Spook Chasers team are appearing and prove it to the world.’
Her words stuck with me.
Even after the accident.
I kept an eye out, listened, heard that the team were doing a ‘Spooky Chasers Christmas Live’ from a castle in a town nearby. More than anything I wanted to talk to Christine again. This was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.
So there I was an audience member, sitting among the crowd of on-lookers as the cameras rolled and Eve did her piece to camera, complete with atmospheric lights and spooky music and an ankle-skimming coat right out of a Hammer production. A Santa hat was perched jauntily on her head.
They segued into a commercial break while a table was readied, and they went directly into a séance, Psychic Del mumbling some disjointed mumbo-jumbo about white lights and protection. Some of the crew, the action boys who were forever being assailed by poltergeists in the show, were larking about off camera, before joining them all-solemn-like as the cameras began rolling again.
There were a couple knocks and bangs, but we were in an old place that was falling down round our ears. Could have been anything.
Then it was Del’s turn to lark about.
I wasn’t very hopeful. He told Eve historical facts that I’d already learned from tourist brochures. Then he stopped suddenly, his head jerking side-to-side like a chicken as a supposed message came in from the other side.
‘We’ve a woman here,’ he said. ‘She’s sitting over by the window. She’s holding her stomach. Oh, dear. Oh, Lord...’
‘What is it, Del?’ Eve’s eyes were almost popping out of her head as she stared at the blank space Del indicated. I followed her gaze, hopeful, but saw nothing whatsoever.
‘Give me a little more, Bob,’ Del exhorted.
Bob? I had to think about who he was talking to, then remembered. Bob was his supposed ‘spirit guide’. Aren’t spirit guides supposed to be a swami or Native American Shaman or something equally esoteric? Bob – Del’s guide – was apparently a nineteenth century miner from Yorkshire. Maybe that was meant to add credibility, but it didn’t sit with me. But - By Eck! - I couldn’t see a ghost in a pit helmet however hard I tried.
‘Oh, the poor lamb. She’s in pain; she has blood on her shift.’ Del began shivering, his eyes rolling up in his skull.
Eve cried out, flinching back from him. Right on cue. ‘Did you hear that?’
When no-one responded, Eve was adamant. ‘I heard a noise like a woman’s scream,’ she said. She glared at the rest of the team challenging them to disagree. Some of them nodded along with her.
I’d heard something too, but it was the siren of an ambulance in the nearby town as it barrelled through congested traffic. I glanced at the other audience members but they were too rapt on Del’s shenanigans to make sense of the truth.
‘He killed my baby,’ Del squeaked out in a Mickey Mouse voice. ‘Don’t let him get me.’ Then Del threw himself off his chair and began convulsing on the floor while all the team gathered round him shouting at him to ‘come forward’.
Yeah, I thought, come forward and take a bow, Del. It was about the best acting I’d ever seen. Or the worst.
As he shivered on the floor, making more squeaky noises, I decided I’d had enough.
Del was the biggest fake imaginable and he was sucking everyone into his little fantasy act. Everyone but me, thanks very much.
There was no chance of ever speaking to Christine through the likes of him.
I got up from my chair, made a quick escape while everyone’s attention was on that big cheese, Del, and made my way outside.
I was so disgusted, felt so cheapened, even if I’d proven my theory about supposed mediums.
In fact, I was in such a hurry to get away I didn’t even bother with the door, just walked directly through the castle wall.
Note: Written with respect and tongue in cheek, in honour of a popular paranormal TV series I've watched and enjoyed since its inception.